The Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry announced that Pa has hit the lowest unemployment rate in 20 years despite the fact that the poverty rate is increasing even faster.
While the Pennsylvania unemployment rate might be at its 20-year lowest, the poverty rate is steadily increasing. According to information released from the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry, the unemployment rate hit 4.2% in the month of August. The lowest the rate has been since June 2000
Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate was 1.9 percentage points below its August 2021 level.
“With Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate dipping to 4.2 percent – its lowest point since June 2000 – this moment is an opportunity to reflect on the value of labor and celebrate the fact that Pennsylvania workers have access to a competitive job market right now. We must also remember that records are meant to be broken and trends change over time,” L&I Secretary Jennifer Berrier said. “As we tackle economic challenges of today and tomorrow, we must remain committed to the protection of that most valuable economic asset – people.”
According to the release, an estimated additional 2,000 people were either working or looking for work over the course of the month, with employment rising by 4,000 and unemployment dropped 2,000.
What hasn’t been discussed is the increase in Welfare benefits since July 2021. Information released by the Department of Human Services.
Between July 2021 and July 2022 Medical Assistance eligible persons increased by 7%.
TANF enrollement between July 2021 and July 2022 increased by 28.1%. 28.1%….increase.
What is TANF? And why does it matter?
TANF stands for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families.
The TANF program, which is time-limited, assists families with children when the parents or other responsible relatives cannot provide for the family’s basic needs. The Federal government provides grants to States to run the TANF program. These State TANF programs are designed to accomplish four goals:
- to provide assistance to needy families so that children may be cared for in their own homes or in the homes of relatives;
- to end the dependency of needy parents on government benefits by promoting job preparation, work, and marriage;
- to prevent and reduce the incidence of out-of-wedlock pregnancies and establish annual numerical goals for preventing and reducing the incidence of these pregnancies; and
- to encourage the formation and maintenance of two-parent families.
States have broad flexibility to carry out their programs. The States, not the Federal government, decide on the design of the program, the type and amount of assistance payments, the range of other services to be provided, and the rules for determining who is eligible for benefits.
SNAP eligible persons increased by 5% in the past year.
What is SNAP?
SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), formerly called food stamps, is a government program that helps people buy the food they need for healthy lives. Across the United States, 9.5 million families and children use SNAP to buy food. It is the largest program working to fight hunger in America. SNAP helps many people stretch their budgets because the money they would use on food can go towards other needs like medical bills, utilities, and rent.
While unemployment has dropped 1.9% in the past year, it would seem those seeking welfare benefits have increased drastically in that time. This makes you wonder, how many of those people who no longer collect unemployment simply ran out and had to begin collecting welfare instead?
The state should be focusing on what to do about the rampant poverty that is plaguing our state rather than celebrating the 1.9% drop in unemployment and focusing on the 28.1% increase in TANF. Or the 5% increase in SNAP. Or the 7% increase in MA-eligible persons.